Tsara Komba – Nosy Komba, Madagsacar

Picture: A female black lemur (the males are black – honest)    

Nosy Komba, location:
Small island off the North West coast of Madagascar

Famous for:  Black lemurs, chameleons, sea life and complete relaxation.

When to go: It really depends on what you would like to see. There are two distinct seasons in Madagascar, wet (November – April) and dry (May – October).
The temperatures soar in the wet season, but if you are keen to see more reptiles and exotic bugs, the closer you get to the wet season the better. The local guides advise November as the best month to visit the island as the temperatures are very warm and the forests teeming with life, but any later in the season and it might be a little hot and sticky. We were here in September – no rain, just lots of glorious sunshine.

Cost: Cost varies, depending on the accommodation chosen (they have three room types), board basis and of course the duration of your visit. prices start at roughly £1,000 per person per week, with periodical special offers available. You can check the website here…>

Flights/travel: You can get a transfer from Nosy Be, or from the nearest mainland port Ankify, both transfers are by small speedboat. The speedboats are comfortable and you will be issued with life vests before you set out.

Time difference: 2 hours behind GMT

Picture: Tsara Komba from the gorgeous beach

Tsara Komba itself: Well, wow!! Sometimes words are not enough to describe a place accurately. This one was like an untouched paradise. There are no cars on the island at all and so the first thing you get a sense of is the tranquility. The hotel has only 8 lodges and all of them are sympathetically built into the side of the forest, using environmentally methods, wooden structures and thatched roofs. The beach is soft powdery and immaculately maintained, fully equipped with canoes, beach ball games and of course, shady sunbeds with thick mattresses. It’s so beautiful here and so relaxing the rooms are very spacious and airy, with generous terraces that contain table and chairs plus a rattan three piece suite for you to relax into. Trust me the rooms are just luxurious, welcoming and provide everything you need, from locally produced shower gel and shampoo to the vanilla pods on your bed… it is awesome.

The terraces all look out over the bay and allow you privacy with a view, no one can look in due to the lush vegetation that surround all of the buildings here.

This hotel provides all of the creature comforts you would expect from a boutique hotel in London, but with none of the pomp. The manageress, Maryse, is great company and is very generous with her time, making sure she talks to all of the guests, you are guaranteed to feel very special here.

The team at the hotel made you feel like your enjoyment is the most important thing in the world to them, they are friendly, gracious and incredibly helpful, even down to the gardeners and cleaners who you may only see in passing, but they all go the extra mile to make your stay truly special.

With a reputation of being the best retsaurant in Madagascar, the food here, as you can imagine really was amazing. With much of the fayre being grown in the hotel’s kitchen garden (even pepper & coffee!), and the fish delivered by local fisherman daily, the flavours were exquisite and the menus diverse. For each meal there are three options per course and the menu is changed daily. The only difficulty here is what to choose.

Everything about this place is idyllic, I didn’t want to leave!

picture: A green gecko joins us for breakfast on our balcony    

Wildlife: Apparently during the Mango season, the black lemurs visit this area of the island, but the rest of the time you may need to travel to the local town to see them. However there are chameleons, sunbirds, drongo and friendly green geckos, keen to join you for breakfast, so there is no wildlife shortage here. Plus every day we saw dolphin passing the bay in front of the restaurant. There is also a whale watching hotspot nearby and for the the duration of our stay, humpback whales were seen every day on the boat trips. Manta ray and spotted whale sharks are also seen regularly here.

Black Lemurs: You can trek into the tropical forest from the hotel to see the broad range of flora and fauna here, including the black lemur, or you can take a boat trip to the local village where you will find a semi habituated group of black lemurs who will waste no time in getting to know you.

Picture: View of bay from the restaurant area   

Activities: A well as canoeing, snorkelling locally and of course walking along the beach or in the gardens, there are also a selection of boat trips available. Fishing, deep sea and traditional. Whale watching, snorkelling, village and plantation visits, deserted beach visits… the world really is your oyster here – do as little or as much as you want, be as energetic or relaxed as you want to be.

What to take: 
• A good book.
• waterproof bags to protect cameras when in the boat.
• A healthy appetite!
• Long trousers or skirts for evening mossie protection.
• Insect repellent (Avon’s skin so soft is what I use).
• Lots of memory cards for your camera.
• Binoculars
• Antibacterial hand gel.

Picture: At the local village, locally grown vanilla for sale       

What to expect: To spend a lot of time smiling! Expect peace and quiet, to be woken and fall asleep to the sound of the waves in the bay. Expect excellent food, you will get it. There are no early starts here unless you want them, breakfast can be served at whatever time you want and it can be taken in the privacy of your own terrace. The dress code is comfort based, so there is no need to feel pressure to dress up for dinner, unless you want to of course – casual and conservative is a good start and there’s no need to wear shoes – fantastic! Even if they are full you will still find this a haven away from the tourist crowds – the largest crowds you will see are the locals in the villages when you visit. You will find lots of vanilla on sale in bundles and it’s definitely worth buying some, just remember to keep it in a sealed bag as vanilla takes on strong smells, so if you buy black pepper (another popular choice) and put it next to the vanilla, you may end up with peppery vanilla! For breakfast you may want to keep your eyes open for the small, uninvited (but very appealing) guests – the green gecko, pictured further up the page, like to see if they can tempt any fresh fruit or marmalade away from you. They are charming and seem very tame – if you move slowly they will even eat banana from your hand! Dolphin and possibly even Whales are seen from the beach if you are lucky, but above all else, expect to be enchanted.

Picture: Dinner doesn’t come fresher than that!

Tsara Komba – see it before the rest of the world finds out…!

We arranged our trip with Audley Travel, and I have to say I have never felt quite so well looked after. From initial discussions and the tailoring of our trip (plus several changes along the way!) they were patient, knowledgeable and kept us informed at every step. We were looked after by Donna, who has extensive first hand knowledge of Madagascar and who called us both before we left and after we returned to make sure everything was OK. I really cannot fault this company  and we will be using them again.

You can check out their website here…> go on, you know you want to…